Bits of Legacy


Somehow I don’t think people understand that legacy is all the little bits they leave behind.  I’m becoming more and more aware of what I’m leaving behind but this week I had a few wonderful moments of other people leaving parts of themselves behind.

My local dry cleaner is a funny, warm, interesting man.  We have the most thought-provoking and animated conversation each time I come in.  Frankly it’s the only reason why I come in as he doesn’t accept credit/debit cards.  It’s all cash or check and it is the single only check I write anymore.  One thing led to another during our weekly conversation and he was duly impressed that I write a blog.  We talk nostalgia, we talk NPR, we talk crazy people and he was excited when he found out he might find a bit of all that on Ordinary Legacy. He was supportive before even reading a single line. What a credit to his warmth and personality.

Then there is “the guy”.  We have a help desk for all our IT issues/problems/questions but…they aren’t really much help.  Mostly no fault of their own as they aren’t authorized to do many many many functions.   Greater minds than mine have figured out that this is an efficient way to operate (she said tongue firmly implanted in cheek).  I’m a pretty self-sufficient computer user but every once in a while I come across something that is unnerving/puzzling/aggravating/ always when working remotely.  It’s beyond my scope of knowledge and it would require the help desk but I’ve got “a guy”.  I’m not really sure how I found myself on the other end of a “call me directly anytime” invitation but I am so grateful I did.  I don’t take advantage and I try to exhaust most avenues before I instant message him with a help me Obi Wan but there are times when I’m in WTF mode and he is always helpful.  I adore him and I tell him so.  The thing is if he stood in front of me I wouldn’t even know it. He is patient and reminds me without making me feel like the dinosaur I am that he needs to be invited into my computer to fix it.  No snappy remarks when I say….remind me again.  What a gem, a gentleman and a true help.  He can’t begin to know the value in that and I truly do adore him.  Being a helpful individual leaves behind huge bits of legacy.

I had a young couple to dinner on Friday night.  He is dear to me but I was meeting her for the first time.  Oh how I love meeting old friends for the first time, some people are just destined to be in your life and leave behind grace, wisdom beyond their years and pragmatism.  What an enjoyable evening filled with talk and laughter and eating and on and on.   What they left behind for me was the gift of their youth and the prospect of watching them grow together.

Not a bad week all in all, filled with gifts from people who have no idea that they are spreading bits of themselves with legacy written all over them.  If only they knew that these little bits could be harnessed and expanded and could cement their legacy to so many.  The thing is do they have to know or is it better to just be who they are?  I know like I know that time will tell, it always does.




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The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches….E.E. Cummings

How soon we forget. It’s winter.  I have heard more bitching and moaning about the snow this week than I have in quite some time.  Mostly from people snug in their homes with laptops and fireplaces and fresh brewed coffee and their kids.    From retirees that can’t stand another minute…what is so urgent that the snow is cramping your style?  Just curious.  And from my mother who refuses to even look out the window at it all the while watching the 24/7 coverage of it on the news and grabbing her rosary for anyone stuck or stranded or who’s house lost power. God love her if she lets her guard down for just one minute the world would….who knows.

It’s true, snow doesn’t give a soft white damn but have we really lost track of the soft white part?  You know the beauty, the fury, the magnificence of all that snow?  Have we lost track of the nostalgia?  There was NO SUCH THING as pre-announcement school closing when I was a kid (God how I hate typing that).  My dentist and I had this discussion on Thursday, when he confirmed my tooth was indeed fine, that we waited with anticipation for the siren to go off at 6:30am when school was closed.  As I may have written before, pandemonium in feety pajamas broke loose in my house.

My father couldn’t stay home because he had that kind of boss but he knew how to drive in snow and taught us how to drive in snow.  His big problem became all the people out and about getting in his way.  Same problem the plow drivers have when someone is valiantly trying to make it to work in the office.  The office, not the hospital right, the office.  We never had the luxury of having him home on a snow day but now fathers are bundling up the kids and going out to play.  That is an awesome part of snow.

I’m blessed to have my Stowe Lane family coming to my rescue.  Best sight ever was Muriel showing up for “payment” after cleaning off the 12” of snow from my car we got in the first round.  I didn’t even know they were out there and I certainly had no intention of going out until the “email” came.  One bottle of wine, two cans of Coke, a quart of sauce and half a loaf of bread (ready for the oven) later my debt was paid.  Love those two.

Don’t think I’m not guilty of becoming that person.  You know the one.  We get the “email” from our property manager pronouncing us all get out and clean off our cars as soon as possible so the snow removal people can clean up the parking lot.  She gave the usual dos and don’ts but the gist was getting your ass out there ASAP.  We’re a pretty good group, all of us bursting out the door like something out of Dr. Seuss with our brooms and brushes and shovels and scrapers.  Dressed in our layers and big boots and funny hats and mittens.  We’re quite the sight on Stowe Lane.  So we’re all done and moved over to the already clear spots from the morning and we wait and we wait and we wait and now people are starting to come back home.  The next email goes something like; yesterday we got 18” of snow, then rain, then more snow.  Ok, we’re listening.  And the guys are concentrating on the streets.

snow email

No they’re not.  The guys haven’t been seen since early in the morning.  The guys are still at the beginning of the complex because they didn’t believe the weather forecast and are trying to use their existing equipment and manpower to clean up the after effects of a blizzard. Really?  They shovel a shovel-width path all around the complex completely ignoring the handicapped spots (not that anyone living on the second floor is really handicapped but I digress) then they bring one snow blower, one. OK, don’t give me that line about how over worked they are and their concentration on the streets when you should be asking where the rest of their equipment and manpower was.  Yes I did send her pictures; yes I did mention that at least some of my maintenance money should go to the residents who were cleaning out the handicapped spots.  And YES the bobcats and plowman and backhoes did show up 15 minutes later.  Oh my God I have become that person…

Meanwhile by Saturday my sister was calling it “day three of the hostage crisis”.  Granted she might have done something to her back (not shoveling as she has an angel of an upstairs neighbor for that) but she was also enjoying a good book, getting back to cooking albeit Sandra Lee style as she calls it, and the very genuine phone calls from work wanting to know how she’s doing.

While I was cleaning up and digging around my car on “email” day I had an interesting conversation with GI Joe (he’s a former marine with a story). By interesting I mean more than the usual pleasantries, I try to duck him since I found out he went to Brockport with my ex brother in law.  While he’s moaning about the snow I remind him that Rochester might have been a little worse than this and he’s a former Marine made of tougher stock than most.  It dawns on him I might have something and switches to telling me about the steak he barbecued last night.  Seemed a bit serendipitous as his wife is usually very meek, let’s say. I smelled that steak cooking when I took the girls out.  It was a pleasant surprise in the middle of winter and it smelled damn good and I told him so.  I asked if he and his wife enjoyed their dinner….well um she is taking care of her sister who broke her wrist….I know like I know this was his version of pandemonium in feety pajamas.


For me, being socked in on Stowe Lane is priceless, I work, I read, I cook, I enjoy the beauty out in the enchanted forest and my neighbors and going to bed early and a good bottle of wine and the quiet of the neighborhood when I poke my head out before anyone else.  I love what my camera sees and I love having the uninterrupted time for just a bit of nostalgia.  Still I too am longing for spring:

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” ~ E.E. Cummings

Can’t wait to bitch about that when it gets here in thirty one days.

Busy Kitchen on Stowe Lane


This has been a banner week of cooking on Stowe Lane.  After a wonderful pre-birthday celebration with my family last Sunday the weather turned even more frigid, icy and just plain I am winter and you’re not the boss of me…you’ll take what I dish out (no pun intended) and suffer through until Spring.

Plans of going out to dinner with the Aunt M’s was not going to happen, which I was a bit relieved about because they already spent way too much on gifts…don’t ask how I know, I just know.  I don’t  haul myself about in crappy weather anymore, I’ve got a laptop and a cell phone I can work anywhere, so I looked in the freezer and pulled out a pork tenderloin, mixed mushrooms, green beans, and hit the pantry for some polenta and stock.  You’ll come by me for dinner, famous last words.  If I planned on having a tombstone those words might just do.  It’s such a joy when they burst through the door ready to eat.  We laughed and ate and laughed some more and they only need go out for a minute to get home.  The perfect birthday.

I am a fan of Judith Jones who published a wonderful book called, “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” that I read over and over.  Yes I’m one of those people who can stay up to read a cookbook like a novel till the glasses fall to the end of my nose and I’m asleep.  It’s a treasure, in it she states, “Cooking for yourself is particularly creative because you are inspired by what’s in your fridge or freezer or garden or nearby market.  You don’t have to follow a recipe slavishly; planning how to make three quite different dishes from, say tenderloin of pork…..” So before you ask why I had pork tenderloin in my freezer, it was perfectly legit.   As were the individually portioned baby lamb chops that were destined for later in the week. Just sayin.

Dinner with my friends David and Jan is always amazing, this time at their home.  We commence the revelry as soon as one or the other of us enters the door.  Jan is not the cook with abandon kind of girl that I am, strict with the recipe and planner of menus, she has confessed that she never cooks without a recipe.  And of course, her meals are always delish!  It’s the added ingredients of love and laughter that round out the flavors.

Now for those baby lamb chops, baked potato, spinach soufflé with frizzled onions and a beautiful cabernet.  The therapeutic value of going through the seasoning, the grilling (making sure the fan is on high and the kitchen candle is lit or the fire department might be joining me) coating the potato with olive oil and salting, the soufflé was a cheat (thank you Stouffer’s) but the garnishes were all lovingly crafted by me, for me.  A meal like that must be eaten at the table complete with cloth napkin.  Do not keep rolling your eyes…bits of all these meals would turn themselves miraculously into something else during the week.

Best and busiest of the days was cooking with my friend Louise.  We have been trying to do this for years.  She lives in the Midwest and travels east with some frequency but the timing has never been right until this weekend.   I put a pot of sauce on Saturday morning and the smell was heavenly, it’s been awhile since I pulled out Gramma’s sauce pot.  It’s a true antique with all the bangs and brown spots to prove it.  Louise did confess to some sauce pot envy.  Frankly, I can’t imagine who’s going to make the sauce when I’m gone so she might just wind up with it.  I made the pasta dough and when she arrived we got to work on the ravioli, she made the filling while I ran the dough through the pasta machine.  Once it was thin thin thin, she began to fill and cut the ravioli while I pulled out Aunt Millie’s pot to start the water boiling (yes more vintage pot envy).  My kitchen is small and I can do a pretty good dance when I’m in there alone but I have to say we had just as good a choreography going with code words like scoot left, behind you, scoot right.  Somehow it worked and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Our friend Evi and her family joined us for dinner and we sat around the table eating, laughing, drinking and telling stories for hours.  Truly this was my idea of a perfect evening.

At the end of the night when everyone had gone and the dishes were done I processed the pictures I took and posted them on Facebook.  One of my friends summed it up perfectly:

Great chronological pics of the life and love of a ravioli.  (there is something very satisfying about the final pot being stacked).  Molto soddisfacente signorita Loconti.

Indeed there was much satisfaction in this night of cooking and laughing with friends.  I know like I know I could do it again and again and again.


No one who cooks, cooks alone.  Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.   Laurie Colwin


This is Grace

blistered feet

In life, as in the dance, grace glides on blistered feet…Alice Abrams

I believe him, she said.  He is speaking like someone with an experience. Like he is missing family and simply wants to come home.  This is grace.  From a mother who let her son go and live with his father all the while wrestling with the decision.  This is grace. To let a son make mistakes while standing on the sidelines watching and holding back from preventing those mistakes knowing they would prove beneficial.  This is grace.  While praying for assurance that you’ve done the right thing, never really knowing but trusting.  This is grace.  Welcoming him home to a family that loves him, having never let go of him and will now hold him responsible for the knowledge he’s gained and the man he’s become. Step by step.


She saved my life, she answered when they asked how you know her.  This is grace.  From a wife who had been left too soon by a husband that loved her dearly.  This is grace.  From a neighbor who called, and sat, and brought two tiny angels with her to play around the sadness they never even noticed. This is grace.   Two women who were each struggling with their own inner distractions or pain that found each other at either end of a flight of stairs.  This is grace.  That two small children could enter and open up the hearts of these two women to move them forward toward each other and away from their pain. Step by step.


I can’t.  She said of a woman she called friend for many years.  This is grace. To recognize that it is not your fault that she has no friends.  This is grace.  To further recognize that you cannot be the only person in her life if all she does is show you her malice.  This is grace.  To know when to leave a friendship for your own sake because your peace of mind is important and that it might prove the only way for a friend to learn.  Step by step.

grace definition

These are people who have walked beside you, never showing you their anguish.  Step by step most people are gathering grace in everything they do, everything they accomplish, everything they suffer, everything they celebrate and everything that they have and will become.  I am in awe of people of grace because they have no clue that they have anything more than blistered feet as Alice Abrams so eloquently put it.

If any one thing could impact a person’s legacy as strongly it would be grace.  One’s movement through the world, albeit at times on blistered feet, touching and impacting along the way.  Being ever cognizant of the world around you, no matter how tiny that world might be, is valuable to countless others.  I have been touched by the stories of these women this week and can’t help thinking they can’t begin to fathom how far they’ve come.  Nor can they fathom how many they’ve touched in their grace. Brava my dears put your feet up for a while.  We know, we’ve seen, your struggle hasn’t gone unnoticed by those around you…or do what you always do. Carry on through your life in that way only you can to the ever increasing benefit of us all.

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